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To: rob777
Great article. Surprisingly good for, and kinder to Jonah than he deserves.

The problem is that you can't patent or copyright an idea. In an age of liberal dominance, the radical suburban kids of the Sixties took the left to places that Wilsonians, Wobblies and Stalinists didn't go, and may not have dreamed of. Today, in a more conservative or free market era, a later generation of suburban kids will take the prevailing ideologies and use them to get what they want or express their rebellion.

Where you come from in intellectual history may be as important as where you are trying to go. Libertarian ideas arising in an era of "character-building" scarcity are bound to develop differently from those which take root in an age of affluence, self-expression and "autonomy." That relationship between circumstances and ideas is one reason why lewrockwell's interpretations of history so often fall flat: the same concept or value will not have the same consequences in every age.

But withal, a good and necessary blast against Postrel and the odious Gillespie. Thanks for this.

4 posted on 12/22/2001 9:16:03 AM PST by x
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To: x
There is, in particular, nothing in libertarianism that entails that one ought to be in the least bit hostile to or even suspicious of traditional morality or traditional moralists. There is thus no reason whatsoever why libertarians and onservatives ought to be divided over the question of traditional morality

Sorry, but there's a big conflict between libertarian principles and people who want to enforce religiously-based "morality" on who people who don't share their religious beliefs, and to use the power of the state to do this via legal discrimination against the non-"traditionalists". And how do you suppose those "traditions" came to be traditional? Via the imposition of force by government authorities and by ecclesiastical authorities who had obtained government-like authority in theocratic societies. Nope, can't support that. If the social practices they advocate don't remain predominant without government coercion, then they weren't "traditional" in the first place, just vestiges of tyranny.

preoccupation with drugs and pornography

Pornography, to the extent that its production does not involve coercion of real people, should be protected by the First Amendment, though subject to the same sort of "time, place, and manner" test as other types of speech (I don't think libertarians are advocating highway billboard displays of hard-core porn). Of course, most of the situations in which conservatives get upset about pornography would go away if half the country wasn't being run by the government. Blocking access to Internet porn in public schools and public libraries? Sure it's wrong when those institutions are run with taxpayer funds, but why are they being run with taxpayer funds?

As for drugs, I part company with the extremist libertarians on this subject. Obviously, many aspects of the "War on Drugs" have been ill-advised and infringed on basic liberties, but I don't think this is a reason to make all drugs legal -- just rein in the War where it steps over the line.

Now I have no problem with making marijuana legal (simply makes no sense to have alcohol legal and marijuana not, and Prohibition was already tried and is just inneffective when it lacks widespread support and the substance in question is easily produced in any home or dorm room).

However, most "hard" drugs have an extraordinary capacity to do harm, not just to the user, but also to innocent bystanders. Just imagine if it were perfectly legal to walk around with a pocket full of OxyContin or Rohypnol. Rapes of unconscious women would be epidemic, and no one would be safe from having these substances surreptitiously dropped in their food or drink in any public place. For the highly addictive substances, dealers would have plenty of incentive to involuntarily addict people by means of repeated surreptitious placement of the drug in food or drink, and would then profit handsomely when the new addicts exercised their "freedom" to purchase and use these drugs. I disagree with the premise that the high cost of drugs, and crime induced by addicts trying to get money for drugs, are products of illegality. They are products of addiction, which is very severe for many street drugs. As long as the users are inherently desperate for the drugs, the normal supply and demand effect on pricing is inoperative. Dealers have huge incentive to undertake violent, illegal measures to prevent the market from being flooded with inexpensive drugs, because the users will buy them no matter how high the cost. This is not the case with non-drug commodities or with non-addictive or very mildly addictive drugs like marijuana -- note how still-illegal marijuana is not expensive and is not associated with high crime rates.

Bottom line: hard drugs fall into the same category as plutonium. Principles need to have exceptions made to them, where there would otherwise be tremendous harm to innocent people. Libertarians don't support people's right to buy/sell/use personal supplies of plutonium, and there's nothing wrong with treating hard drugs the same way.

The other big argument against legalizing hard drugs at the present time is that, under our current legal/political system, which is far from libertarian or conservative, it is utterly impossible to let nature take its course, and leave the addicts to die of starvation or freezing or being shot by the intended victims of their robberies, etc. The growing numbers of them would all be entitled to taxpayer-funded treatment and living expenses. Nor are employers free to randomly screen employees for hard drug use, and even when an employer manages to confirm that an employee has become a heroin or crack addict, it would be virtually impossible to fire the employee, who will claim the "disability" of addiction, and be entitled to treatment, accommodation, etc. At least now, the employer can usually make sure that the offender gets in legal trouble, and then fire them for that.

23 posted on 12/22/2001 10:41:02 AM PST by GovernmentShrinker
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